Highway games

It’s no secret that states, just like the federal government, are having trouble funding infrastructure projects. They have for years, relying primarily on the gas-tax system for funding.

New HampshireBut, leave it to New Hampshire to come up with an innovative plan to provide funding and fix roads and bridges throughout the state. Legislators have advanced a bill to raise the gas and diesel tax by 15 cents per gallon over the next three years, nearly doubling the current 18-cent tax, and raising an additional $111 million dollars, according to Land Line Magazine.

But, that’s not the most interesting part.

According to an article in the Union Leader, written by Charles M. Arlinghaus, Gov. John Lynch has found a way to bypass state law, pump money into the state highway fund and not cost the taxpayers a dime.

According to the state constitution, Arlinghaus writes, toll revenue can only be used to repair toll roads, as it’s a user fee. Apparently, due to a toll increase two years, the turnpike toll fund is flush with cash. That’s where Lynch’s idea comes into play.

He wants to buy a road. Specifically, Arlinghaus writes, a one-mile section of I-95 leading up to the Spaulding Turnpike. The thought, it seems, is to buy the one-mile stretch, turning it into a part of the Spaulding and at the same time transferring $120 million, the purchase price, from the toll fund to the general highway fund, freeing up the money for road repairs throughout the state. Without the purchase, that $120 million, generated by users of the turnpike system, would be unavailable for general road repair.

Maybe if we had more outside-the-box thinkers like Lynch, our roads would be in better shape. Of course, eventually governments would run out of roads to sell to themselves, leading us right back to where we are today.

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